Traditional New England cider goes back to early America, a hardy fermentation style founded on keeping imbibers warm through the harsh Northeastern winters with high-octane alcohol and sugar. Originally crafted for necessity, New England style cider has made quite the come back to our modern day world.
Today, cideries across the country dip into culturally founding ways by creating their own versions of Old World cider, like the New England rendition. The fermentation process is different than what we know today, requiring an addition of sugar, a blend of various apples and raisins, barrel-aged for a distinct period of time to create a semi-sweet profile that has stood the test of time. What the cider boils down to is a barrel-aged fermentation that makes the alcohol content of the cider up to 12 percent. Basically, this style of cider is strong and a must for winter warmth. Here are three to test out as the temperature drops.
BlackBird Cider Works | New England Style | Barker, NY
This colonial-style cider is hearty and full-bodied with rich flavors throughout. BlackBird Cider Works reinvented the New England style with this particular blend. Crafted with nine different apple varieties and double-fermented in French oak barrels, this semi-sweet, still cider has received national recognition by the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition and set the standard for the category in many tasting competitions and productions nationwide. Complex yet easy to drink, the profile of the still cider is sweet and floral with hints of honey and caramel in between each sip. The finish is slightly tart and dry, silky smooth to go down easily with a roasty, savory meat dishes of the season.
Snowdrift Cider Co. | Semi-dry Cider | East Wenatchee, WA
Using New England-style traditions to craft this cider, Snowdrift combined apples with higher acidity, brown sugar and honey to create a blend of vibrant flavors from clear across the country. Bright hints of lime come through the nose, while the dark, more complex counterpoints of toasted marshmallow and caramel are formed through the oak barrel-aging process. The body is full and complex, allowing woody tannin notes to hide behind the sweet flavors. This cider pairs well with Italian dishes and aged cheese, such as sharp cheddar or Manchego.
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider | Winter Abbey Spice | Portland, OR
The remodeled version of the cidery’s original Providence Traditional New England cider, the same recipe — made with California raisins, dark muscovado, cinnamon and nutmeg — gets an extra “burst of appley-ness” amid the spice and wine-like qualities, aged in American oak barrels more a minimum of three months. This longer fermentation process allows for customization with the added sugars and raisins. The spices create a thick mouthfeel and hints of buttery oak from the American barrels allow for a complex flavor profile. Enjoy next to a roaring fire this fall and you’ll be set.